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November 28, 2010 at 8:11 AM

Pac-10 takes it on the chin … again

Okay you’re Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, the 2011 chairman of the NCAA men’s basketball committee.
You’re a Big Ten guy and it’s your task to select 68 teams to compete for the national title.
If you had to choose today, how many are you taking from the Pac-10? Be honest.
The conference had a lousy 1-4 performance Saturday, which capped a lousy week. This was a chance for the league to make hay and restore its battered reputation in a handful of games against ranked opponents.
Instead, Washington lost by a combined 12 points to No. 8 Kentucky and No. 2 Michigan State. Oregon hardly presented a challenge to No. 1 Duke and Arizona fell to No. 6 Kansas.
California is the only Pac-10 team with a win over a ranked team. The Bears upset No. 20 Temple, but they lost badly the next day.
Adding to the Pac-10 misery, a couple of teams had poor outings in high-profile settings.
UCLA traveled to New York’s Madison Square Garden and was trounced by Villanova and Virginia Commonwealth. Arizona State lost in the finals of the Great Alaska Shootout.
It’s never too early to worry about NCAA seedings. Especially after what happened last season when the conference narrowly – if you listen to the bracketologists – got two into the tourney.
***Updated 6:06 p.m.***
As it stands today, the Pac-10 has 11 nonconference games against ranked teams before it begins league play.
I spoke with two long-time Pac-10 observers Saturday. They’re partial to the conference, but they believe the league needs to win at least six of those games to send three teams to the tournament again.
The Pac-10 is 34-18 in non-conference games, but just 1-4 against ranked opponents. Winning six games is possible, but unlikely considering six are either on the road or in a neutral site.
In regards to the tournament, I can’t see a scenario right now in which the league gets more than three invitations and it’s quite possible two is the number. When it’s all said and done, I think three teams will squeeze in.
RealTimeRPI.com has low perception of the Pac-10 and the Sagarin ratings are only slightly better.
The Pomroy ratings has Washington and Arizona in the top eight, but the next Pac-10 school (UCLA) is 44th.
Regardless of what the computers say, there are people deciding who gets a tournament invitation and who stays at home.
We saw it happen last season, once conference play begins there’s no chance to bolster the Pac-10 resume because the national pundits believe it’s a bunch of bad West Coast teams beating up on each other. And honestly, the perception isn’t too far off from reality right now.
The league has a little over a month to turn things around. Pac-10 play begins Dec. 29.
Next week Thursday Arizona State travels to No. 12 Baylor, UCLA visits Kansas and Oregon hosts No. 12 Baylor. On Friday unbeaten Washington State plays No. 4 Kansas State at Friel Court.
Just one game on the Pac-10 docket today.
Stanford vs. DePaul (in Anaheim, Calif. in the 76 Classic), 10:30 a.m.
Pick: Stanford
Record: 32-13
SUNDAY MORNING LINKS:
— Arizona lost its game to Kansas, but the Wildcats coach Sean Miller continues to nab top recruits. Before its 87-79 defeat, Arizona received commitments from 2012 forward Grant Jerrett and 2013 guard Eric Cooper Jr., two Top 25 players from La Verne (Calif.) Lutheran High School.
Kyle Singler trounced little brother E.J. and Duke toyed with Oregon during a 98-71 demolishing.
— Oregon State coach Craig Robinson’s famous brother-in-law watched the Beaver’s 84-74 victory over Howard. With President Obama watching in the first row behind the OSU bench, the Pac-10 team won its first road game and improved to 3-2.
— USC led by 20 points, but it didn’t matter as the Trojans were toppled 60-58 by Nebraska.
— SI.com ranked to top 15 NBA prospects. UCLA’s Tyler Honeycutt is No. 17 and he’s the only Pac-10 player on the list. That’s a strange choice. If you’d only pick one person, why not Arizona’s Derrick Williams?
— It’s a little dated, but here’s a nice story on Dana Altman, which details the tough task ahead for Oregon’s new coach.

Comments | Topics: top 25, UCLA

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